London’s Heathrow Airport was Europe’s busiest airport hub once again in 2014, attracting 73.4 million passengers, a 1.4 percent increase from 2013, reports Bloomberg News. Heathrow was followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Germany’s Frankfurt Airport. These top three spots have remained unchanged over the past few years, but there’s a new city in the fourth place spot: Istanbul. Its Ataturk Airport nudged Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to fifth place in 2014, as both travel to and through Turkey has surged.
Heathrow’s 1.4 percent growth was the most sluggish of the four, however. Charles de Gaulle drew 2.8 percent more passengers in 2014 than the previous year. Frankfurt had growth of 2.6 percent. Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, however, saw a whopping 11 percent increase in 2014, up to 57 million from 51 million in 2013.
The numbers are not surprising; they reflect how more airlines are choosing Istanbul for a transfer hub, as well as the growth of Turkey’s national flag carrier, Turkish Airlines, which saw a 14 percent increase in passengers in 2014. Turkish Airlines Chairman Hamdi Topçu told Bloomberg in December that the airline was taking advantage of lower costs to slash fare prices in an attempt to increase the airline’s market share.
“Growth has been enormous in Turkey for years, but this will mark a changing of the guard,” airline analyst Hans-Peter Wodniok told Bloomberg last April. “West European airports are losing transit passengers, which are the most lucrative as they spend the most in airport shops, and it’s even worse for airlines, who are losing customers entirely.”